Economy


Chameli and I have spent the last several weeks on the Greek island of Corfu, leading our annual Deeper Love retreat there.  Couples and single people gathered from all over the world to dive into an exploration together of a love beyond the usual confines of  personality habits.

Every few days we’ve been getting concerned messages from friends and family.  “You are in Greece?  Maybe you should leave early?  Are you going to be alright?”  Every now and then we open up Google news, and discover that we are, apparently, sitting right in the middle of the fatal crack in civilization.  “Why Greece may take us all down,” read one headline.  According to the news, we are trapped in the epicenter of a devastating financial and political disaster.

I write this to you from a cafe in capital city of Kerkyra. As I look around me, I can see, unfolding before my very eyes, a picture of global civilization coming undone.  It is a Sunday night, and the streets are packed with people.  These are not the usual tourists, but local residents, out in droves on this warm evening to express themselves with passion.  Let me see if I can paint you a more vivid picture. (more…)

Advertisements

Back at the end of June, I posted a piece called “Charging Money for the Truth.” It generated 47 comments, which are really worth taking the time to read. This is a hot topic, a juicy topic, and one which opens up all kinds of important questions. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been able to go much deeper into these questions with some fascinating people.

Marc Gafni, for example, has been an ordained rabbi most of his adult life. Until a few years ago, he was living and practicing in Israel. Now that he’s teaching in the United States in a more “secular way,” he finds himself dealing much more with questions of making the books balance. He had some fascinating observations about the relationship between money and “dharma.”

Diane Hamilton was a “starving artist” and a single mother for much of her life. She took Zen Buddhist vows under Genpo Roshi, and is now a widely recognized Zen teacher, as well as one of the senior instructors in Ken Wilber’s Integral Institute.

Sally Kempton started out as a professional journalist and a writer for Esquire, the New York Times, New York magazine, and the Village Voice. She was an early voice in the second wave feminist movement. Spirituality was the last thing on her agenda.  After a powerful spiritual opening, however, she became a “sadhu” monk, and was known for many years as Swami Durgananda. (more…)

I’ve spent a good deal of my time in India over the last several decades. There’s a common saying in India that if a teacher charges money for “the dharma” (which loosely translated means “teachings about the truth”) that he or she will go to a special section of hell set aside for spiritual entrepreneurs, an area cornered off and designed to be much nastier than the areas for axe murderers, rapists, and the like.

My primary teacher in India, H.W.L. Poonja, for example, never asked money from anyone for anything. There was no donation basket in the back of the room, even.

At the same time, there is another, equally well-established tradition in India, called “dana.”  You never go to a teacher empty-handed. If you want the blessings of the teacher, you should come equipped with baskets of fruit, cloth, and all other kinds of goodies.

In the last several decades, there have also been some immensely successful teachers making huge contributions to millions of people who have worked from exactly the opposite mentality. A good example is Harry Palmer, the creator of the Avatar training. He is a genuinely deep and awake guy, highly motivated to help people experience freedom.  “People will only actually integrate insights that they have come to regard as valuable”, he stated back in the early ’90’s. “And the way that people create value in Western society is by paying money.”    Consequently, a couple weekends with an Avatar trainer would cost $2,000. The Avatar training was immensely successful for a long time. Other similar examples of huge, culture-charging movements that have charged high fees are EST, Tony Robbins Seminars, The Sedona Method, and many more. (more…)

Hands framing

It has become a cliche these days to hear sayings like “in this economic climate,” or “in these difficult times.”  And of course it becomes a self-perpetuating prophecy.  Are these statements the whole truth about today’s economic climate?  First, people selling gizmos of various kinds, people who run restaurants, and folks in service industries, will tell you that customers are spending less money.  Why?  Because they are making less money.  Why are they making less money?  Because their customers are spending less money.  Why is all this happening?  Because of difficult economic times!  It is somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The more we believe it, the more it becomes true.  The other thing that is true about these times is that it’s not longer so easy to make money from having money.  Back in the 90’s you could buy a house for $200,000 and, if you played your cards right, you could put 5% down ($10,000).  If the house went up 50% in value (which many houses did over just a few years), it then became worth $300,000.  You just made $100,000 on an investment of $5,000.  That is a 2000% profit.

The same thing could be done at that time in the stock market, or just lending money to start-up businesses.  Why?  Because everybody had the opposite belief as we have now.  It was boom time!  People were using worlds like “great opportunities” and “leverage.”  Everybody believed that story together, and it became another self-fulfilling prophecy.
(more…)

modernmysticAmidst so much talk about the economy collapsing, global warming and a myriad of other problems, we are having a wonderful summer and hope you are too.  Over the weekend I went down to the Yuba River with my dear friend Brooks Cole.  It’s a magnificent place revered by Native Americans for centuries as a place of “sacred peace”.  I’m going to get a video up for you in the next few days.

Thank you all so much for the unbelievable number of responses I got about my new project.  I’ve read and digested every one and they have proven to be incredibly useful.  Last night I didn’t get back from SF until three in the morning; I was interviewing Bill Harris who is the creator of Holosync technology and Genpo Roshi.  If you don’t know about Genpo, he is a modern Zen master with an extraordinarily integrated teaching called “The Big Mind.”  I’ve conducted about ten of these video interviews now with great equipment in HD, and I will be doing three more shoots over the next week.  (more…)

fingerpointingBy now pretty much everybody has been affected in one way or another by the change in economic climate.  Some people have been hit really hard, like Dave from Brighton, I described in the post below, who lost his job and was concerned that he wouldn’t have the money to pay for gifts for his family for Christmas.  Or Maureen, who I met recently in Michigan, who’s husband lost his job along with their medical insurance.  When she discovered she had a rare blood disease, it looked like it would inevitably drive them to bankruptcy.  Others have been less drastically affected, perhaps had to just cut back on unnecessary luxuries.
The amazing thing about this shift in the economy, which I have discovered from my coaching clients, and from traveling and teaching, is how many of us take it personally.  It’s not logical of course.  But it’s a pandemic how easily we feel, “I did something wrong, it was my fault, I have failed.”
If you’ve noticed this happening for you, here are 5 simple tips to put things in perspective. (more…)